Flock it

Velvety wallpaper is back with a vengeance but not as we know it, reports Annie Deakin
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The Independent Online

The arrival of colder months brings with it a revival of velvet, both in the wardrobe and in the home. Recent catwalk shows for Gucci and Christopher Kane were awash with the furry stuff and the more fashionable of interior designers like Barbara Hulanicki are plastering flock on their walls.

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Flock wallpaper, which first appeared in the 17th century­ in all its tactile glory, is back in favour with the trendsetters. While patterned wallpaper has been soaring in popularity over the past few years, the trend is fast veering into textured wallpapers.

Last month, BIBA founder Barbara Hulanicki, who started her career as a fashion illustrator, introduced the Hulanicki Flock Collection. Launched at the gothic Crazy Bear Club in Covent Garden, this is her second collaboration with Graham & Brown. Her Real Flock range of textured wallpapers challenges our conceptions of flock in its contemporary designs and affordable pricing. The burnt oranges, purple grapes and petrol tones of her palette add a fresh edge to a wallpaper that is usually deemed fusty and regal.

Instead of the busy, outdated designs of history, Hulanicki has created decadent and cheeky flock wallpaper. Worth a particular mention is her inky black Skulls wallpaper which repeats a black velvety skull graphic on a moody grey background. She says, "I love the almost shock element that you don't instantly see the skull design unless you really look at the paper. This wallpaper would be particularly good in the guest loo!"

On the other end of the spectrum, Hulanicki's Shoes flock wallpaper, a smattering of furry pink stilettos, is cheery and full of life. "Shoes are the ultimate fashion accessory instantly making you feel glamorous and sexy," says Hulanicki. "Every girl loves shoes. This one is for the shoe ladies."

Wild and wacky flock papers are the way forward. Fashion favorites, the Glasgow based textile designers Timorous Beasties caused a furore when they first created their rebellious flocks. Their special edition gothic Devil Damask wallpaper features jet black flock on carbon grey mica; it is a traditional weave with little devil heads woven into the pattern. It isn’t new this season but Osborne & Little's Best in Show wallpaper, featuring silhouettes of black furry dog breeds on a cream background, is a funky reinvention of the flock.

High street giants are also getting in on the action with new season collections including flock for the first time in decades. A recent move from Marks & Spencer has included moving their wallpaper collections from online only to in store. Their new black and white big print Flock damask wallpaper features on the front cover of their Autumn/ Winter 09 catalogue. Over at Laura Ashley, shoppers will discover new flock wallpapers in cranberry reds and charcoal hues in their latest collections.

Fashion and interiors go hand in hand as new season collections show similar trends. Velvet is a winter marvel, sumptuous, warming and cosy. The advantage of bringing velvet into your interior, rather than your wardrobe, is that you don’t need to worry about the rain. How flocking wonderful.

Annie Deakin is Editor of mydeco.com